Eastern Michigan University’s “Enlighten U” podcast connects college student overload and poor mental health

Lolita Cummings, Perry Francis, Justin Walters, and Melissa Thrasher on the set of the "Enlighten U" video podcast.
From left, Lolita Cummings, Perry Francis, Justin Walters, and Melissa Thrasher on the set of the "Enlighten U" video podcast.

YPSILANTI — Stress and burnout run rampant across college campuses, but Eastern Michigan University is working to alleviate their harmful effects on students. 

According to the American College Health Association, 82% of all college students become overwhelmed and burned out at some point in their academic careers, leading to poor mental health. 

To address this common phenomenon, “Enlighten U,” Eastern Michigan University’s podcast for students, dissects these issues in its most recent episode. 

On the show, EMU graduate student Justin Walters candidly shares his struggles with burnout and over-commitment throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies. He is joined on set by Perry Francis, Ed.D., a frequent guest expert who provides analysis, sound advice, and information on free resources. Francis is a nationally certified counselor and professor of counseling at the University. 

Walters graduated from EMU in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is now pursuing his master’s degree in the same field. He is also employed full-time as a social media strategist for DTE Energy. 

During his undergraduate studies, Walter’s time and energy were thinly divided by many clubs and activities, including EMU’s student government, the Black Student Union, and a stint as president of the Poetry Society. He also worked as a community programmer for EMU’s Resident Housing Association and occasionally volunteered to suit up as EMU's mascot, Swoop. The over-commitment eventually led to stress and burnout. 

“Students entering universities are often encouraged to join clubs and organizations to get the most out of their college experience,” said Lolita Cummings, EMU’s professor of public relations and “Enlighten U” co-host. “It’s great advice, but sometimes students become overwhelmed by taking on too much – and that’s what this episode is about. Through conversation and mental health expertise, we help students notice the signs of burnout and provide excellent advice and resources to help them find balance.”

Future episodes of “Enlighten U” will address the importance of compassion, mental health in student-athletes, social media harms, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, imposter syndrome, grading anxiety, adjustment to campus life, social justice, and more.

For more information about “Enlighten U,” contact Lolita Cummings at lcummin2@emich.edu and Melissa Thrasher at mthrashe@emich.edu. Email messages with guest and topic suggestions can also be sent to Enlighten_U@emich.edu. “Enlighten U" is available on all major podcast streaming services and EMU's YouTube Channel. The next episode will air Thursday, Feb. 15. 

About Enlighten U
“Enlighten U” is an Eastern Michigan University-produced podcast for college students as they experience unique stressors, including academic pressures, personal growth, social challenges, and more. EMU executive director of media relations and social media Melissa Thrasher and EMU public relations professor Lolita Cummings serve as co-hosts. Each episode is released each month and welcomes a student or alum and a subject-matter professional. Episodes of “Enlighten U” address mental health topics like imposter syndrome, financial strain, grading anxiety, adjustment to campus life, social media harms, social justice, and more.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

January 24, 2024

Written by:
Nina Scarpelli

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher